Skip to main content

Full text of "The experience of Thomas H. Jones, : who was a slave for forty-three years,"

See other formats




8 EH 

cJV? 5~S" 


Given By 

3 1 



> ' -■ : 



WrsowoL CLgNaactS 



Boston Public Library. 


















Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1862, by 

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts. 

A suffering brother would affectionately present this 
simple story of deep personal wrongs to the earnest 
friends of the Slave. He asks you to buy and read it, 
for, in so doing, you will help one who needs your 
sympathy and aid, and you will receive, in the perusal 
of this simple narrative, a more fervent conviction of 
the necessity and blessedness of toiling for the deso- 
late members of the one great brotherhood who now suf- 
fer and die, ignorant and despairing, in the vast prison 
land of the South. " Whatsoever ye would that men 
should do to you, do ye even so to them." 



The undersigned take pleasure in certifying, that they have formed an 
acquaintance with Brother Thomas Jones, since his escape from 
Slavery : having s?en and perused his letters, and his certificates of 
Church relations, and made all suitable inquiries, most cordially re- 
commend him to the confidence and aid of all who have a heart to sym- 
pathize with a down trodden and outraged portion of the great 
brotherhood. We would also say, that we have heard brother Jones 
lecture before our respective churches, and we only speak the unani 
mous sentiments of our people, when we say, that his narrative is one 
of thrilling interest, calculated to secure the attention of any audience, 
and to benefit the sympathizing hearts of all who will make themselves 
acquainted with the present condition and past experience of this true- 
hearted brother. 

Pastor of the Wesleyan Church, Boston. 

Pastor of the Free Evangelical Church, 
North Danvers, Mass. 

To whom it mat concern : — This may certify, that the bearer, 
Thomas Jones, has lectured to my people, with good success, giving a 
satisfaction uncommon to one deprived, as he has been, of moral or 
mental cultivation. 

I can cheerfully recommend him to all such as may be inclined to 
give him a hearing or assistance in any way, in confidence, feeling that 
be is an honest and upright man. 

Pastor of W. M. Church, Exeter, N II. 

Nov. 25, 1S49. 


To the Friends of the hunted American Slave in England : — 

Boston, March 29, 1851. 

In consequence of the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law, at the last session 
of Congress, a general flight from the country of all fugitive slaves in the 
Northern States has become necessary as a matter of personal safety. Among 
the mimber thus compelled to leave is the bearer of this, Thomas H. Jones, a 
Wesleyan preacher, and pastor of a colored church in the neighboring city of 
Salem, who carries with him a narrative of his life for sale. My personal ac- 
quaintance with him is limited ; but those among my friends who know him 
intimately speak of him as a most worthy man, and one peculiarly entitled to 
the sympathy and aid of those who love Uod and regard man. Though he is 
si man. " created a little lower than the angels " — exemplary in life — a servant 
and minister of Jesus Christ — in all the United States there is not a spot on 
which he can stand in safety from pursuing bloodhounds, and must flee to 
England to prevent being again reduced to the condition of a beast ! May the 
Clod of the oppressed raise him up many friends abroad ! 


Lynn, Jan. 17, 1859. 

I have been for several years well acquainted with the bearer of this note, 
Rev. Thomas 11. Jones, and it is a-pleasure to me to recommend him cordially 
to all who love God, humanity and freedom. He was forty-three years a 
Blave, but by great courage, industry and perseverance, has fought his way to 
freedom of body and spirit, and has devoted himself with fidelity and success 
to the spiritual salvation <>t men. Jle has a family, part lice and part yet in 
bonds, whose wants roll heavy responsibilities on him as a husband and father, 
and is therefore obliged to toil hard for daily bread. I bespeak for him the 
sympathy and benevolence of the public as an earnest, honest Christian man, 
wui thy of all confidence that he may claim, and of all assistance that he may 

TALES H. NEWHALL, Pastor of South St., M. E. Church. 

Wilmington, April 25, 1857. 

I am personally acquainted with Eev. Thomas H. Jones, a fugitive from 
Slavery. During the past two years have heard him preach and lecture to 
large congregations with much acceptance. 

Br. Jones is a warm-hearted Christian and a worthy Minister of Jesus Christ. 

It will do any people good to hear him tell the " Story of his wrongs," 

OKICEN SMITH, Pastor of the Baptist Church in Dover, Vt. 

Greenwich, March 9, 1857. 

This may certify that Mr. Thos. Jones, a fugitive from Southern bondage, 
lectured to us last evening in a very acceptable manner, and enlisted the in- 
terest and sympathy of the people in no ordinary degree. He is a true man 
and a beloved brother and fellow laborer in the Lord. He leaves behind him 
in his departure a pleasant impression, both in the family and in public. He is 
hereby commended to the kind regards and friendly aid of all who love the 
Diviue Redeemer, and have sympathy with the oppressed. 


U?£. £ $o^ / * • 


I was born a slave. My recollections of early life 
are associated with poverty, suffering and shame. I 
was made to feel, in my boyhood's first experience, 
that I was inferior and degraded, and that I must pass 
through life in a dependent and suffering condition. 
The experience of forty-three years, which were passed 
by me in slavery, was one of dark fears and darker re- 
alities. John Hawes was my first master. He lived 
in Hanover County, N. C, between the Black and 
South Rivers, and was the owner of a large plantation, 
called Hawes' Plantation. He had over fifty slaves. 
I remained with my parents nine years. They were 
both slaves, owned by John Hawes. They had six 
children, Richard, Alexander, Charles, Sarah, myself, 
and John. I remember well that dear old cabin, with 
its clay floor and mud chimney, in which, for nine 
years, I enjoyed the presence and love of my wretched 

Father and mother tried to make it a happy place 
for their dear children. They worked late into the 
night many and many a time to get a little simple fur- 
niture for their home and the home of their children ; 
and they spent many hours of willing toil to stop up 
the chinks between the logs of their poor hut, that they 
and their children might be protected from the storm 
and the cold. I can testify, from my own painful ex- 
perience, to the deep and fond affection which the slave 
cherishes in his heart for its home and its dear ones. 
We have no other tie to link us to the human family, 
but our fervent love for those who are with us and of 
us in relations of sympathy and devotedness, in wrongs 
and wretchedness. My dear parents were conscious 
of the desperate and incurable woe of their position 


and destiny ; and of the lot of inevitable suffering in 
store for their beloved children. They talked about 
our coming misery, and they lifted up their voices and 
wept aloud, as they spoke of our being torn from them 
and sold off to the dreaded slave-trader, perhaps never 
ao-ain to see them or hear from them a word of fond 
love. I have heard them speak of their willingness to 
bear their own sorrows without complaint, if only we, 
their dear children, could be safe from the wretched- 
ness before us. And I remember, and now fully un- 
derstand, as I did not then, the sad and tearful look 
they would fix upon us when we were gathered round 
them and running on with our foolish prattle. I am a 
father, and I have had the same feelings of unspeaka- 
ble anguish, as I have looked upon my precious babes, 
and have thought of the ignorance, degradation and 
woe which they must endure as slaves. The great 
God, who knoweth all the secrets of the heart, and He 
only, knows the bitter sorrow I now feel when I think 
of my four dear children who are slaves, torn from me 
and consigned to hopeless servitude by the iron hand 
of ruthless wrong. I love those children with all a 
father's fondness. God gave them to me ; but my 
brother took them from me, in utter scorn of a father's 
earnest pleadings ; and I never shall look upon them 
a^ain, till I meet them and my oppressors at the final 
gathering. Will not the Great Father and God make 
them and me reparation in the final award of mercy to 
the victim, and of Justice to the cruel desolator ? \ 

Mr. Hawes was a very severe and cruel master. He 
kept no overseer, but managed his own slaves, with the 
help of Enoch, his oldest son. Once a year he distrib' 
uted clothing to his slaves. To the men he gave one 
pair of shoes, one blanket, one hat, and five yards ol 
coarse, homespun cotton ; to the women a correspond- 
ino- outfit, and enough to make one frock for each of 
the children. The slaves were obliged to make up their 
own clothes, after the severe labor of the plantation had 
been performed. And other clothing, beyond this 


yearly supply, which they might need, the slaves were 
compelled to get by extra work, or do without. 

The supply of food given out to the slaves, was one 
peck of corn a week, or some equivalent, and nothing 
besides. They must grind their own corn, after the 
work of the day was performed, at a mill which stood 
on the plantation. We had to eat our coarse bread 
without meat, or butter, or milk. Severe labor alone 
gave us an appetite for our scanty and unpalatable 
fare. Many of the slaves were so hungry after their 
excessive toil, that they were compelled to steal food 
in addition to this allowance. 

During the planting and harvest season, we had to 
work early and late. The men and women were called 
at three o'clock in the morning, and were worked on the 
plantation till it was dark at night. After that they 
must prepare their food for supper and for the break- 
fast of the next day, and attend to other duties of their 
own dear homes. Parents would often have to work 
for their children at home, aftereach day's protracted 
toil, till the middle of the night, and then snatch a few 
hours' sleep, to get strength for the heavy burdens of 
the next day. 

In the month of November, and through the winter 
season, the men and women worked in the fields, clear- 
ing up new land, chopping and burning bushes, burn- 
ing tar kilns, and digging ditches. They worked to- 
gether, poorly clad, and suffering from the bitter cold 
and Avet of those winter months. Women, wives and 
mothers, daughters and sisters, on that plantation, were 
compelled to toil on cold, stormy days in the open field, 
while the piercing wind and driving storm benumbed 
their limbs, and almost froze the tears that came forth 
out of their cold and desolate hearts. Little boys, and 
girls, too, worked and cried, toting brush to the fires, 
husking the corn, watching the stock, and running on 
errands for master and mistress, and their three sons, 
Enoch, Edward and John, and constantly receiving 
from them scoldings and beatings as their reward. 


Thus passed nine years of my life ; years of suffer- 
ing, the shuddering memory of which is deeply fixed 
in my heart. Oh, that these happy, merry boys and 
girls, whom I have seen in Massachusetts since my es- 
cape from slavery, whom I have so often met rejoicing 
in their mercies since I came here, only knew the deep 
wretchedness of the poor slave child ! For then, I am 
sure, their tender hearts would 'feel to love and pray 
for these unhappy ones, on whose early life hopeless 
sufferings bear down a crushing, killing burden ! 
These nine years of wretchedness passed, and a change 
came for me. My master sold me to Mr. Jones, of 
Wilmington, X. C, distant forty-five miles from Hawes' 
plantation. Mr. Jones sent his slave driver, a colored 
man named Abraham, to conduct me to my new home 
in "Wilmington. I was at home with my mother when 
he came. lie looked in at the door, and called to me, 

" Tom, you must go with me." His looks were 
ugly, and his voice was savage. I was very much 
afraid, and began to cry, holding on to my mother's, 
clothes, and begging her to protect me, and not let the 
man take me away. Mother wept bitterly, and in the 
midst of her loud sobbings, cried out in broken words, 
" I can't save }*ou, Tommy ; master has sold you, you 
must go." She threw her arms around me, and while 
the hot tears fell on my face, she strained me to her 
heart. There she held me, sobbing and mourning, till 
the brutal Abraham came in, snatched me away, hur- 
ried me out of the house where I was born, my only 
home, and tore me away from the dear mother who. 
loved me as no other friend could do. She followed 
him, imploring a moment's delay, and weeping aloud, 
to the road, where he turned around, and striking at 
her with his heavy cowhide, fiercely ordered her to 
stop bawling, and go back into the house. 

Thus was I snatched from the presence of my loving 
parents, and from the true affection of the dear ones oi 
home. For thirteen weary years did my heart turn in 
its yearning for that precious home. And then at the 


age of twenty-two, was I permitted to revisit my early 
home. I found it all desolate ; the family all broken 
up ; father was sold and gone ; Richard, Alexander, 
Charles, Sarah and John, were sold and gone. Mother 
prematurely old, heart-broken, utterly desolate, weak 
and dying, alone remained. I saw her, and wept once 
more on her bosom. I went back to my chains with a 
deeper woe in my heart than I had ever felt before. 
There was but one thought of joy in my wretched con- 
sciousness, and that was, that my kind and precious 
mother would soon be at rest in the grave. And then, 
too, I remember, I mused with deep earnestness on 
death, as the only friend the poor slave had. And I 
wished that I too, might He down by mymother's side, 
and die with her in her loving embrace. 

I should have related, that one of the earliest scenes 
of painful memory associated with my opening years of 
suffering, is connected with a severe whipping which my 
master inflicted on my sister Sarah. He tied her up, 
having compelled her to strip herself entirely naked, in 
the smoke house, and gave her a terrible whipping — at 
least so it seemed to my young heart, as I heard her 
scream, and stood by my mother, who was wringing her 
hands in an agony of grief, at the cruelties which her 
tender child was enduring. I do not know what my 
sister had done for which she was then whipped : but I 
remember that her body was marked and scarred for 
weeks after that terrible scourging, and that our parents 
always after seemed to hold their breath when they 
spoke of it. Sarah was the last of the family who was 
cold ; and my poor mother never looked up after this 
Lnal act of cruelty was accomplished. I think of my 
only sister now ; and often try to imagine where she is, 
and how she fares in this cruel land of slavery. And, 
oh, my God, how dark and wretched are these pictures ! 
Can I think of that poor sister without a sorrow too 
great for utterance ? Ah me ! how can the generous, 
loving brother or sister, blessed with freedom, forget 
the cruel sorrows and wrongs of the slave brother 


and sister ? How fellowship, even in the least act of 
comity, the atrocious slave-holder ? There may be 
some who do this from ignorance of such cruel wrongs. 
God grant this simple story may enlighten some who 
only need to know our deep necessities, to give us their 
willing sympathy and aid and love. 

My journey to Wilmington with the heartless Abra- 
ham was a very sad one. We walked all the way. I 
was afraid of my savage companion ; and yet my heart 
felt so desolate, and my longings for sympathy so in- 
tense, that I was impelled to turn to my cruel guide for 
relief. He was striding along in stern gloom and silence 
too fast for my young feet to keep pace ; and I began 
to feel that I must stop and rest. It was bitter cold, 
too, and I was poorly clad to bear the keen air of a Jan- 
uary day. My limbs were weary with travel, and stiff 
with cold. I could not go on at the rate I had done, 
and so I turned to my guide and begged him to take me 
into some hut and let me rest and get warm. He cursed 
me, and told me to keep silence and come along, or he 
would warm me with a cowhide. Oh, T thought how 
cruel and hopeless my lot ! Would that I could fall 
down here and die. And I did fall down. We had 
just passed through a soft, wet place, and it seemed to 
me that I was frozen. And I fell down on my dark, 
cold way, unable to proceed. I was then carried into a 
slave's cabin, and allowed to warm and rest. It was 
nearly midnight when I arrived, with my conducter, at 
my place of exile and suffering. And certainly no heart 
could be more entirely wretched than I was when I 
threw my weary, aching body on my cold, hard bed. 

The next morning I was called into the presence of 
Mr. Jones, my new master, and my work was assigned 
to me. I was to take care of the old gray horse, kept 
for the use of the family when they wished to ride out, 
to fetch water from the spring to the house, to go on 
errands to my master's store, to clean the boots and 
shoes belonging to the white members of the family, and 
to the white visitors, to sweep the rooms, and to bring 


wood from the wharf on my head for the fires at the 
house and store. From the first dawn of day till ten 
and eleven, and sometimes twelve at night, I could 
hardly find one moment's time for rest. And, oh, how 
the memory of that year of constant toil and weariness 
is imprinted on my heart, an impression of appalling 
sorrow. My dreams are still haunted with the agony 
of that year. I had just been torn from my home ; my 
yearning heart was deprived of the sweet sympathy of 
those to whose memory I then clung, and to whom my 
heart still turns with irrepressible and unutterable long- 
ings. I was torn from them and put into a circle of 
cold, selfish and cruel hearts, and put then to perform 
labors too great for my young strength. And yet I 
lived through that year, just as the slave lives on through 
weary years of suffering, on which no ray of light 
shines, save that which hope of a better, happier future 
gives even to the desolate bondman. I lived through 
it, with all its darkness and sorrow. That year I re- 
ceived my first whipping. I had failed one day to finish 
my allotted task. It seemed to me that I had done my 
best ; but somehow, that day, thoughts of home came so 
fresh and tender into my mind, and, along with these 
thoughts, a sense of my utter hopeless desolation came 
in and took such a strong hold of my heart, that I sank 
clown a helpless, heart-broken child. My tasks for that 
day were neglected. The next morning my master 
made me strip off my shirt, and then whipped me with 
a cowhide till the blood ran trickling down upon the 
floor. My master was very profane, and with dreadful 
oaths, he assured me that there was only one way for 
me to avoid a repetition of this terrible discipline, and 
that was to do my tasks every day, sick or well. 

And so this year went by, and my duties were 
changed, and my lot was made a little easier. The 
cook, Fanny, died, and I was put into her place. I still 
had to get Avood, and keep the fires in the house, and, 
after the work of cooking, setting the table, clearing 
away and washing the dishes, there was always some- 


thing to be done for my mistress. I got but little time 
to rest ; but I got enough to eat, which I had not done 
the year before. I was by the comfortable fire a good 
part of the cold winter weather, instead of being ex- 
posed to the cold and wet, without warm clothing, as I 
had been the year before, and my labor was not so hard 
the second year as it had been the first. 

My mistress complained of me at length, that I was 
not so obedient as I ought to be, and so I was taken 
from the house into the store. My business there was 
to open and sweep out the store in the morning, and get 
all the things ready for the accommodation of customers 
who might come in during the day. Then I had to 
bring out and deliver all heavy articles that might be 
called for during the day, such as salt, large quantities 
of which were sold in the store, ship stores, grain, &c. 
I had also to hold myself ready to run on any errand my 
master or clerk, David Cogdell, might wish to send me 
on. While Cogdell remained in the store, I enjoyed a 
gleam of happiness. He was very kind to me, never 
giving me a cross word or sour look ; always ready to 
show me how to do anything which I did not under- 
stand, and to perform little acts of kindness to me. His 
condescension to me, a poor, despised, homeless and 
friendless slave, and his tenderness to me, while all oth- 
ers were severe and scornful, sank down a precious bond 
of grateful emotion into my desolate heart. I seemed 
to be lifted up by this noble friend at times, from the 
dark despair which had settled down upon my life, and 
to be joined once more to a living hope of future im- 
provement in my sad lot. Should these simple words 
ever meet the eye of David Cogdell, let them assure 
him of my fervent gratitude and affection for his good- 
n2ss to me. Let them tell him how infinitely precious 
to my mourning heart, then and now, his generous 
treatment and noble kindness to a despised and unhappy 
boy. And let them say to him, " My early and true 
f.iend, Tommy, the poor slave boy, whom you blessed 
with unfailing kindness, has now grown to be a man, 


and has run away from the dark misery of bondage. 
And now, when he calls upon his Father in Heaven to 
pour out rich blessings on the few friends who have 
aided him, then David Cogdell is remembered with fond 
and fervent affection." David was one of the few who 
always regarded the feelings and happiness of others as 
earnestly as his own ; who find their own happiness in 
making the unfortunate happy by sympathy and kind- 
ness, and who would suffer any loss rather than do in- 
justice to the poor and defenceless. I often wondered 
how there could be such a difference in the character of 
two men, as there was between that of my master and 
my friend and benefactor, David Cogdell. And I often 
wished that I might pass into the hands of such a man 
as he was. But his kindness and generosity to the poor 
slaves was very offensive to my master, and to other 
slaveholders ; and so, at length, Mr. Jones turned him 
off, though he was compelled to acknowledge, at the 
same time, that he was the most trustworthy and valu- 
able assistant he ever had in his store. 

After my master dismissed Mr. C, he tried to get 
along with me alone in the store. He kept the books 
and waited upon the most genteel of his customers, 
leaving me to do the rest of the work. This went on 
six months, when he declared that he could not bear 
this confinement any longer ; and so he got a white boy 
to come and enter as clerk, to stay till he was of age. 
James Dixon was a poor boy about my own age, and 
when he came into the store, could hardly read or 
write. He was accordingly engaged a part of each day 
with his books and writing. I saw him studying, and 
asked him to let me see his book. When he felt in a 
good humor, James was very kind and obliging. The 
great trouble with him was, that his fits of ill-humor 
were much more frequent than his times of good feel- 
ing. It happened, however, that he was on good terms 
with himself when I asked him to show me his book, and 
so he let me take it and look at it, and he answered 
very kindly many questions which I asked him about 


books and schools and learning. He told me that he 
was trying to get learning enough to fit him to do a 
good business for himself after he should get through 
with Mr. Jones. He told me that a man who had 
learning would always find friends, and get along very 
well in the world without having to work hard, while 
those who had no learning would have no friends and 
be compelled to work very hard for a poor living all 
their days. This was all new to me, and furnished me 
topics for wondering thought for days afterwards. The 
result of my meditations was, that an intense burning 
desire to learn to read and write took possession of my 
mind, occupying me wholly in waking hours, and stir- 
ring up earnest thoughts in my soul even when I slept. 
The question which then took hold of my whole con- 
sciousness was, How can I get a book to begin ? James 
told me that a spelling-book was the first one necessary 
in getting learning. So I contrived how I might obtain 
a spelling-book. At length, after much study, I hit 
upon this plan : I cleaned the boots of a Mr. David 
Smith, Jr., who carried on the printer's business in Wil- 
mington, and edited the Cape Fear Recorder. He had 
always appeared to me a very kind man. I thought I 
would get him to aid me in procuring a spelling-book. 
So I went one morning, with a beating heart, into his 
office, and asked him to sell me a spelling-book. He 
looked at me in silence and with close attention for some 
time, and asked me what I wanted. I told him I wanted 
to learn to read. He shook his head, and replied, " No, 
Thomas, it would not answer for me to sell you a book 
to learn out of; you will only get yourself into trouble 
if you attempt it ; and I advise you to get that foolish 
notion out of your head as quickly as you can." 

David's brother, Peter Smith, kept a book and sta- 
tionery store under the printing-office, and I next ap- 
plied to him for a book, determined to persevere till I 
obtained this coveted treasure. He asked me the same 
question that his brother David had done, and with the 
same searching, suspicious look. By my previous re- 


pulse I had discovered that I could not get a spelling- 
book if I told what I wanted to do with it, and so I told 
a lie, in order to get it. I answered, that I wanted it 
for a white boy, naming one that lived at ray master's, 
and that he had given me the money to get it with, and 
had asked me to call at the store and buy it. The book 
was then handed out to me, the money taken in return, 
and I left^ feeling very rich with my long-desired treas- 
ure. I got out of the store, and, looking around to see 
that no one observed me, I hid my book in my bosom, 
and hurried on to my work, conscious that a new era 
in my life was opening upon me through the possession 
of this book. That counsciousness at once awakened 
new thoughts, purposes, and new hopes, a new life, in 
fact, in my experience. My mind was excited. The 
words spoken by James Dixon of the great advantages 
of learning, made me intensely anxious to learn. I was 
a slave ; and I knew that the whole community was in 
league to keep the poor slave in ignorance and chains. 
Yet I longed to be free, and to be able to move the 
minds of other men by my thoughts. It seemed to me 
now, that, if I could learn to read and write, this learn- 
ing might — nay, I really thought it would, point out to 
• me the way to freedom, influence, and real, secure hap- 
piness. So I hurried on to my master's store, and, 
watching my opportunity to do it safe from curious' 
eyes, I hid my book with the utmost care, under some 
liquor barrels in the smoke house. The first opportu- 
nity I improved to examine my book. I looked it over 
with the most intent eagerness, turned over its leaves, 
and tried to discover what the new and strange charac- 
ters which I saw in its pages might mean. But I found 
it a vain endeavor. I could understand a picture, and 
from it make out a story of immediate interest to my 
mind. But I could not associate any thought or fact 
with these croooked letters with which my primer, was 
filled. So the next day I sought a favorable moment, 
and asked James to tell me where a scholar must begin 
in order to learn to read, and how. He laughed at my 


ignorance, and taking his spelling-book, showed me the 
alphabet in large and small letters on the same page. I 
asked him the name of the first letter, pointing it out ; 
he told me A ; so of the next, and so on through the 
alphabet. I managed to remember A and B, and I 
studied and looked out the same letters in many other 
parts of the book. And so I fixed in a tenacious mem- 
ory the names of the first two letters of the alphabet. 
But I found I could not get on without help, and so I 
applied to James again to show me the letters and tell 
me their names. This time he suspected me of trying 
to learn to read myself, and he plied me with questions 
till he ascertained that I was, in good earnest, entering 
upon an effort to get knowledge. At this discovery he 
manifested a good deal of indignation. He told me, in 
scorn, that it was not for such as me to try to improve, 
that /was a slave, and that it was not proper for me to 
learn to read. He threatened to tell my master, and at 
length, by his hard language, my anger was fully 
aroused, and I answered taunt with taunt. He called me 
a poor, miserable nigger ; and I called him a poor, ig- 
norant white servant boy. While we were engaged in 
loud and angry words, of mutual defiance and scorn, 
my master came into the store. Mr. Jones had never 
given me a whipping since the time I have already de- 
scribed, during my first year of toil, want and suffering 
in his service. But he now caught me in the unpar- 
donable offence of giving saucy language to a white 
boy, and one, too, who was in his employ. Without 
stopping to make any inquiries, he took down the cow- 
hide, and gave me a severe whipping. He told me 
never talk back to a white man on pain of flogging. 
I suppose this law or custom is universal at the south. 
And I suppose it is thought necessary to enforce this 
habit of obsequious submission on the part of the col- 
ored people to the whites, in order to maintain their su- 
premacy over the poor, outraged slaves. 

I will mention, in this connection, as illustrative of 
this cruel custom, an incident which I saw just before I 


ran away from my chains. A little colored boy was 
carrying along through Wilmington a basket of food. 
His name was Ben, and he belonged to Mrs. Runkin, a 
widow lady. A little mischievous white boy, just about 
Ben's age and size, met him, and purposely overturned 
the little fellow's basket, and scattered his load in the 
mud. Ben, in return for this wanton act, called him 
some hard name, when the white boy clinched him to 
throw him down with the scattered fragments upon his 
basket in the mud. Ben resisted, and threw down the 
white boy, proving to be the stronger of the two. Tom 
Myers, a young lawyer of "Wilmington, saw the con- 
test, and immediately rushing out, seized little Ben and 
dragged him into the store opposite the place of battle. 
He sent out to a saddler's shop, procured a cowhide, 
and gave the little fellow a tremendous flog-crino;, for the 
daring crime of resisting a white boy who had wanton- 
ly invaded his rights. Is it any wonder that the spirit 
of self-respect of the poor ignorant slave is broken down 
by such treatment of unsparing and persevering cruel- 


I was now repulsed by James, so that I could hope 
for no assistance from him in learning to read. But I 
could not go on alone. I must get some one to aid me 
in starting, or give up the effort to learn. This I could 
not bear to do. I longed to be able to read, and so \ 
cast about me to see what I could do next. I thought 
of a kind boy at the bake-house, near my own age. I 
thought he Avould help me, and so I went to him, skoAved 
my book, and asked him to teach me the letters. He 
told their names, and Avent over the whole alphabet with 
me three times. By this assistance I learned a feAV more 
of the letters, so that I could remember them after- 
wards when I sat down alone and tried to call them 
over. I could noAv pick out and name five or six of the 
letters in any part of the book. I felt then that I was 
getting along, and the consciousness that I Avas making 
progress, though sIoav and painful, AA r as joy and hope 
to my sorrowing heart, such as I never felt before. I 


could not with safety go to the bake-house, as there I 
was exposed to detection by the sudden entrance of cus- 
tomers or idlers. I wanted to get a teacher who would 
give me a little aid each day, and now I set about secur- 
ing this object. As kind Providence would have it, I 
easily succeeded, and on this wise : A little boy, Hiram 
Bricket, ten years old, or about that age, came along 
by the store one day, on his way home from school, 
while my master was gone home to dinner, and James 
was in the front part of the store. I beckoned to Hi- 
ram to come round to the back door ; and with him I 
made a bargain to meet me each day at noon, when I 
was allowed a little while to get my dinner, and to give 
me instruction in reading. I was to give him six cents a 
week. I met him the next day at his father's stable, 
the place agreed upon for our daily meeting ; and, go- 
ing into one of the stalls, the noble little Hiram gave 
me a thorough lesson in the alphabet. I learned it 
nearly all at that time, with what study I could give it 
by stealth during the day and night. And then again 
I felt lifted up and happy. 

I was permitted to enjoy these advantages, however, 
but a short time. A black boy, belonging to Hiram's 
father, one day discovered our meeting and what we 
were doing. He told his master of it, and Hiram was 
at once forbidden this employment. I had then got 
along so that I was reading and spelling in words of 
two syllables. My noble little teacher was very patient 
and faithful with me, and my days were passing away 
in very great happiness under the consciousness that I 
was learning to read. I felt at night, as I went to my 
rest, that I was really beginning to be a man, preparing 
myself for a condition in life better and higher, and 
happier than could belong to the ignorant slave. And 
in this blessed feeling I found, waking and sleeping, a 
most precious happiness. 

After I was deprived of my kind little teacher, I 
plodded on the best way I could myself, and in this way 
I got into words of five syllables. I got some little time 


to study by daylight in the morning, before any of my 
master's family had risen. I got a moment's opportu- 
nity at noon, and sometimes at night. During the day 
I was in the back store a good deal, and whenever I 
thought I could have five minutes to myself, I would 
take my book and try to learn a little in reading and 
spelling. If I heard James, or master Jones, or any 
custonfer coming in, I would drop my book among the 
barrels, and pretend to be very busy shovelling the salt 
or doing some other work. Several times I came very 
near being detected. My master suspected something, 
because I was so still in the back room, and a number 
of times he came very slily to see what I was about. 
But at such times I was always so fortunate as to hear 
his tread or see his shadow on the wall in time to hide 
away my book. 

When I had got along to words of five syllables, I 
went to see a colored friend, Ned Cowan, whom I knew 
I could trust. I told him I was trying to learn to read, 
and asked him to help me a little. He said he did not 
dare to give me any instruction, but he heard me read 
a few words, and then told me I should learn if I would 
only persevere as nobly as I had done thus far. I told 
him how I had got along, and what difficulties I had 
met with. He encouraged me, and spoke very kindly 
of my efforts to improve my condition by getting learn- 
ing;. He told me I had srot along far enough to get an- 
other book, in which I could learn to write the letters, 
as well as to read. He told me where and how to pro- 
cure this book. I followed his directions, and obtained 
another spelling-book at Worcester's store, in Wilming- 
ton. Jacob showed me a little about writing. He set 
me a copy, first of straight marks. I now got me. a 
box which I could hide under my bed, some ink, pens, 
and a bit of candle. So, when I went to bed, I pulled 
my box out from under my cot, turned it up on end, 
and began my first attempt at writing. I worked away 
till my candle was burned out, and then laid down to 
sleep. Jacob next set me a copy which he called pot 


hooks ; then, the letters of the alphabet. These letters 
were also in my new spelling-book, and according to 
Jacob's directions, I set them before me for a copy, and 
wrote on these exercises till I could form all the letters 
and call them by name. One evening I wrote out my 
name in large letters— THOMAS JONES. This I 
carried to Jacob, in a great excitement of happiness, 
and he warmly commended me for my perseverance and 

About this time, I was at the store early one morn- 
ing, and, thinking I was safe from all danger for a few 
minutes, had seated myself in the back store, on one of 
the barrels, to study in my precious spelling-book. 
While I was absorbed in this happy enterprise, my mas- 
ter came in, much earlier than usual, and I did not hear 
him. He came directly into the back store. I saw his 
shadow on the wall, just in time to throw my book over 
in among the barrels, before he could see what it was, 
although he saw that I had thrown something cpiickly 
away. His suspicion was aroused. He said that I had 
been stealing something out of the store, and fiercely 
ordered me to get what I threw away just as he was 
coming in at the door. Without a moment's hesitation, 
I determined to save my precious book and my future 
opportunities to learn out of it. I knew if my book 
was discovered that all was lost, and I felt prepared for 
any hazard or suffering rather than give up my book 
and my hopes of improvement. So I replied at once 
to his cpiestions, that I had not thrown any thing away; 
that I had not stolen anything from the store ; that I 
did not have anything in my hands which I could throw 
away when he came in. My master declared in a high 
passion, that I was lying, and ordered me to begin and 
roll away the barrels. This I did ; but managed to 
keep the book slipping along so that he could not see 
it, as he stood in the door-way. He charged me again 
with stealing and throwing something away, and I 
again denied the charge. In a great rage, he got down 
his long, heavy cow-hide, and ordered me to strip on 


my jacket and shirt, saying, with an oath, "I will make 
you tell me what it was you had when I came." I 
stripped myself, and came forward, according to his di- 
rections, at the same time denying his charge with great 
earnestness of tone, and look, and manner. He cut me 
on my naked back, perhaps thirty times, with great se- 
verity, making the blood flow freely. He then stopped, 
and asked me what I had thrown away as he came in. 
I answered again that I had thrown nothing away. He 
swore terribly ; said he was certain I was lying, and 
declared he would kill me if I did not tell him the truth. 
He whipped me the second time with greater severity, 
and at greater length than before. He then repeated 
his question, and I answered again as before. I was 
determined to die, if I could possibly bear the pain, 
rather than give up my dear book. He whipped me 
the third time, with the same result as before, and then 
seizing hold of my shoulders, turned me round as 
though he would inflict on my quivering flesh still an- 
other scourging, but he saw the deep gashes he had al- 
ready made, and the blood already flowing under his 
cruel infliction ; and his stern purpose failed him. He 
said, "Why, Tom, I didn't think 1 had cut you so bad," 
and saying that, he stopped, and told me to put on my 
shirt again. I did as he bade me, although my coarse 
shirt touching my raw back put me to a cruel pain. 
He then went out, and I got my book and hid it safely 
away before he came in again. When I went to the 
house, my wounds had dried, and I was in an agony of 
pain. My mistress told the servant girl, Rachel, to help 
me off with my shirt, and to wash my wounds for me, 
and put on to them some sweet oil. The shirt was dried 
to my back so that it could not be got off without tear- 
ing off some of the skin with it. The pain, upon do- 
ing this, was greater even than I had endured from my 
cruel whipping. After Rachel had got my shirt off, 
my mistress asked me what I had done for which my 
master had whipped me so severely. I told her he had 
accused me of stealing when I had not, and then had 
whipped me to make me own it. 


While Kachel was putting on the sweet oil my mas- 
ter came in, and I could hear mistress scolding him for 
giving me such an inhuman beating, when I had done 
nothing. He said in reply, that Tom was an obstinate 
liar, and that was the reason why he had whipped me. 

But I got well of my mangled back, and my book 
was still left. This was my best, my constant friend. 
With great eagerness, I snatched every moment I 
could get, morning, noon and night, for study. I had 
begun to read ; and, oh, how I loved to study, and to 
dwell on the thoughts which I gained from reading. 
About this time, I read a piece in my book about God. 
It said that " God, who sees and knows all our thoughts, 
loves the good and makes them happy ; while he is 
angry with the bad, and will punish them for all their 
sins." This made me feel very unhappy, because I was 
sure I was not good in the sight of God. I thought 
about this, and could'nt get it out of my mind a single 
hour. So I went to James Galley, a colored man, who 
exhorted the slaves sometimes on Sunday, and told him 
my trouble, asking, " what shall I do ? " He told me 
about Jesus, and told me I must pray the Lord to for- 
give me and help me to be good and happy. So I 
went home, and went down cellar and prayed, but I 
found no relief, no comfort for my unhappy mind. I 
felt so bad that I could not study my book. My mas- 
ter saw that I looked very unhappy, and he asked me 
what ailed me. I did not dare now to tell a lie, for I 
wanted to be good, that I might be happy. So I told 
my master just how it was with me ; and then he swore 
terribly at me, and said he would whip me if I did not 
give over praving. He said there was no heaven and 
no hell, and that Christians were all hypocrites, and 
that there was nothing after this life, and that he would 
not permit me to go moping round, praying and going 
to the meetings. I told him I could not help praying, 
and then he cursed me in a great passion, and declared 
he would whip me if he knew of my going on any more 
in that foolish way. The next night* I was to a meet 


ing, which was led by Jack Cammon, a free colored 
man, and a class leader in the Methodist Church. I 
was so much overcome by my feelings, that I staid very 
late. They prayed for me, but I did not yet find any 
relief ; I was still very unhappy. The next morning, 
my master came in, and asked me if I went the night 
before to the meeting. I told him the truth. He 
said, " didn't I tell you 1 would whip you if you went 
nigh these meetings, and did n't I tell you to stop this 
foolish praying ? " I told him he did, and if he would, 
why, he might whip me, but still I could not stop pray- 
ing, because I wanted to be good, that I might be hap- 
py and go to heaven. This reply made my master 
very angry. With many bitter oaths, he said he had 
promised me a whipping, and now he should be as good 
as his word. And so he was. He whipped me, and 
then forbade, with bitter threatenings, my praying any 
more, and especially my going again to meeting. This 
was Friday morning. I continued to pray for comfort 
and peace. The next Sunday I went to meeting. The 
minister preached a sermon on being born again, from 
the words of Jesus to Nicodemus. All this alone 
deepened my trouble of mind. I returned home very 
unhappy. Collins, a free man of color, was at the 
meeting, and told my master that I was there. So, on 
Monday morning my master whipped me again, and 
once more forbade my going to meetings and praying. 
The next Sunday there was a class meeting, led by 
Binney Pennison, a colored free man. I asked my 
master, towards night, if I might go out. I told him I 
did not feel well. I wanted to go to the class meeting. 
Without asking me where I was going, he said I might 
go. I went to the class. I staid very late, and I wa3 
so overcome by my feelings, that I could not go home 
that night. So they carried me to Joseph Jones' cabin, 
a slave of Mr. Jones. Joseph talked and prayed with 
me nearly all night. In the morning I went home as 
soon as it was light, and, for fear of master, I asked 
Nancy, one of the slaves, to go up into mistress's room 


and get the store key for me, that I might go and open 
the store. My master told her to go back and tell me 
to come up. I obeyed with many fears. My master 
asked me where I had been the night before. I told 
him the whole truth. He cursed me again, and said he 
should whip me for my obstinate disobedience ; and he 
declared he would kill me if I did not promise to obey 
him. He refused to listen to my mistress, who was a 
professor, and who tried to intercede for me. And, 
just as soon as he had finished threatening me with 
what he would do, he ordered me to take the key and 
go and open the store. When he came into the store 
that morning, two of his neighbors, Julius Dumbiven, 
and McCauslin, came in too. He called me up and ask- 
ed me again where I staid last night. I told him with 
his boy, Joseph. He said he knew that was a lie ; and 
he immediately sent off for Joseph to confirm his sus- 
picions. He ordered me to strip off my clothes, and, 
as I did so, he took down the cow-hide, heavy and stiff 
with blood which he had before drawn from my body 
with that cruel weapon, and which was congealed upon 
it. Dumbiven professed to be a Christian, and he now 
came forward, and earnestly interceded for me, but to 
no purpose, and then he left. McCauslin asked my 
master, if he did not know that a slave was worth 
more money after he became pious than he was before. 
And why then, he said, should you forbid Tom going 
to meetings and praying ? He replied, that religion 
was all a damned mockery, and he was not going to 
have any of his slaves praying and whining round 
about their souls. McCauslin then left. Joseph came 
and told the same story about the night before that I 
had done ; and then he began to beg master not to 
whip me. He cursed him and drove him off. He then 
whipped me with great severity, inflicting terrible pain 
at every blow upon my quivering body, which was still 
very tender from recent lacerations. My suffering was 
so great, that it seemed to me I should die. He paused 
at length, and asked me would I mind him and stop 


praying. I told him I could not promise him not to 
pray any more, for I felt that I must and should pray 
as long as I lived. " Well, then, Tom," he said, " I 
swear that I will whip you to death." I told him I 
could not help myself, if he was determined to kill me, 
but that 1 must pray while I lived. He then began to 
whip me the second time, but soon stopped, threw down 
the bloody cowhide, and told me to go wash myself in 
the river, just back of the store, and then dress myself, 
and if I was determined to be a fool, why, I must be 
one. My mistress now interceded earnestly for me 
with my cruel master. The next Sabbath wa3 love 
feast, and I felt very anxious to join in that feast. This 
I could not do without a paper from my master, and so 
I asked mistress to help me. She advised me to be 
patient, and said she would help me all she could. 
Master refused to give any paper, and so I could not 
join in the love feast the next day. 

On the next Friday evening, I went to the prayer 
meeting. Jack Gammon was there, and opened the 
meeting with prayer. Then Binney Pennison gave 
out the sweet hymn, which begins in these words : 

" Come ye sinners, poor and needy, 
Weak and wounded, sick and sore." 

I felt that it all applied most sweetly to my condition, 
and I said in my heart, /will come now to Jesus, and 
trust in him. So when those who felt anxious were 
requested to come forward and kneel within the altar 
for prayer, / came and knelt down. While Jacob 
Cammon was praying for me, #nd for those who knelt 
by my side, my burden of sorrow, which had so long 
weighed me down, was removed. I felt the glory of 
God's love warming my heart, and making me very 
happy. I shouted aloud for joy, and tried to tell all 
my poor slave brothers and sisters, who were in the 
house, what a dear Saviour I had found, and how happy 
I felt in his precious love. Binney Pennison asked me 
if I could forgive my master. I told him I could, and 


did, and that I could pray God to forgive him, too, and 
make him a good man. He asked me if I could tell 
my master of the change in my feelings. I told him I 
should tell him in the morning. " And what," he said, 
" will you do if he whips you still for praying and 
going to meeting ? " I said I will ask Jesus to help 
me to bear the pain, and to forgive my master for being 
so wicked. He then said, " Well, then, Brother 
Jones, I believe that you are a Christian." 

A good many of us went from the meeting to a 
brother's cabin, where we began to express our joy in 
happy songs. The palace of General Dudley was only 
a little way off, and he soon sent over a slave with 
orders to stop our noise, or he would send the patrolers 
upon us. We then stopped our singing, and spent the 
remainder of the night in talking, rejoicing and pray- 
in <T. It was a night of very great happiness to me. 
The contrast between my feelings then, and for many 
weeks previous, was very great. Now, all was bright 
and joyous in my relations towards my precious Saviour. 
I felt certain that Jesus was my Saviour, and in this 
blessed assurance a flood of glory and joy filled my 
happy soul. But this sweet night passed away, and, 
as the morning came, I felt that I must go home, and 
bear the slave's heavy cross. I went, and told my mis- 
tress the blessed change in my feelings. She promised 
me what aid she could give me with my master, and 
enjoined upon me to be patient and very faithful to his 
interest, and, in this way, I should at length wear out 
his opposition to my praying and going to meeting. 

I went down to the store in a very happy state of 
mind. I told James my feelings. He called me a 
fool, and said master would be sure to whip me. I 
told him I hoped I should be able to bear it, and to for- 
give master for his cruelty to me. Master came down, 
talked with me a while, and told me he should whip me 
because I had disobeyed him in staying out all night. 
He had told me he should whip me if ever I did so, and 
he should make every promise good. So I began to 
take off my clothes. He called me a crazy fool, and 


told me to keep my clothes on till he told me take them 
off. He whipped me over my jacket ; but I enjoyed so 
much peace of mind that I scarcely felt the cow-hide. 
This was the last whipping that Mr. Jonea inflicted 
upon me. 

I was then nearly eighteen years old. I waited and 
begged for a paper to join the church six months before 
I could get it. But all this time I was cheerful, as far 
as a slave can be, and very earnest to do all I could do 
for my master and mistress. I was resolved to convince 
them that I was happier and better for being a Chris- 
tian ; and my master at last acknowledged that he could 
not find any fault with my conduct, and that it was im- 
possible to find a more faithful slave than I was to him. 
And so, at last, he gave me a paper to Ben English, the 
leader of the colored members, and I joined the love 
feast, and was taken into the church on trial for six 
months. I was put into Billy Cochrane's class. At 
the expiration of six months, I was received into the 
Church in full fellowship, Quaker Davis' class. I re- 
mained there three years. My master was much kinder 
after this time than he had ever been before ; and I was 
allowed some more time to myself than I had been be- 
fore. I pursued my studies as far as I could, but I soon 
found the utter impossibility of carrying on my studies 
as I wished to do. I was a slave, and all avenues to 
real improvement I found guarded with jealous care and 
cruel tenacity against the despised and desolated bond- 

I still felt a longing desire to improve, to be free, but 
the conviction was getting hold of my soul that I was 
only struggling in vain when seeking to elevate myself 
into a manly and happy position. And now my mind 
was fast sinking into despair. I could read and write, 
and often enjoyed much happiness in poring over the 
very few books I could obtain ; and especially, at times, 
I found great peace in reading my old worn Testament. 
But I wanted now that hope which had filled my mind 
with such joy when I first began to learn to read. I 
found much happiness in prayer. But here, also, my 


mind labored in sadness and darkness much of the time. 
I read in my Testament that Jesus came from the bright 
heaven of his glory into this selfish and cruel world to 
seek and to save the lost. 1 read and pondered with 
deep earnestness on the blessed rule of heavenly love 
which Jesus declared to be the whole of man's duty to 
his fellow : each to treat his brother as he would be 
treated. I thought of the command given to the fol- 
lowers of the loving Savior, to teach all nations to obey 
the blessed precepts of the gospel. I considered that 
eighteen hundred years had gone by since Jesus plead 
for man's redemption and salvation, and, going up to 
heaven, had left His work of mercy to be finished by 
His children, and then I thought that I and thousands 
of my brothers and sisters, loving the Lord and pressing 
onto a blessed and endless home in His presence, were 
slaves — branded, whipped, chained ; deeply, hopelessly 
degraded, — thus degraded and outraged, too, in a land 
of Bibles and Sabbaths and Churches, and by professed 
followers of the Lord of Love. And often, such 
thoughts were too much for me. In an agony of de- 
spair, I have at times given up prayer and hope together, 
believing that my master's words were true, that " re- 
ligion is a cursed mockery, and the Bible a lie." May 
God forgive me for doubting, at such times, His justice 
and love. There was but one thing that saved me from 
going at once and fully into dark infidelity, when such 
agony assailed my bleeding heart, — the memory of sea- 
son's of unspeakable joy in prayer, when Love and 
Faith were strong in my heart. The sweet remem- 
brance of these dear hours would draw me back to Je- 
sus and to peace in his mercy. Oh that all true Chris- 
tians knew just how the slave feels in view of the reli- 
gion of this country, by whose sanction men and women 
are bound, branded, bought and sold ! 

About this time my master was taken sick. On Sun- 
day he was prostrated by mortal pains ; and, on Friday 
the same week he died. He left fifteen slaves ; I was 
purchased by Owen Holmes for $435. I was then in 
my twenty-third year. I had just passed through the 


darkest season of despairing agony that I had yet 
known. This came upon me in consequence of the visit, 
which-I have already described, to my dear old deso- 
late home. About this time, too, I entered on a new 
and distinct period of life, which I will unfold in ano- 
ther chapter. I will close this period of sorrow and 
shame with a few lines of touching interest to my mind. 

Who shall avenge the slave ? I stood and cried ; 

The earth, the earth, the echoing sea replied. 

I turned me to the ocean, but each wave 

Declined to be the avenger of the slave. 

Who shall avenge the 6lave ? my species cried ; 

The winds, the flood, the lightnings of the sky. 

I turned to these, from them one echo ran, 

The right avenger of the slave is man. 

Man was my fellow ; in his sight I stood, 

Wept and besought him by the voice of blood. 

Sternly he looked, as proud on earth he trod, 

Then said, the avenger of the slave is God. 

I looked in prayer towards Heaven, a while 'twas still, 

And then methought, God's voice replied, I will. 


I enter now upon a new development of wrongs and 
woes which I, as a slave, was called to undergo. I 
must go back some two or three years from the time 
when my master died, and I was sold to Owen Holmes. 
The bitterness of persecution which master Jones had 
kept up against me so long, because I would try to 
serve the Lord, had passed away. I was permitted to 
pray and go to our meetings without molestation. My 
master laid aside his terrible severity towards me. By 
his treatment to me afterwards, he seemed to feel that 
he had doae wrong; in scouro-ino; me as he had done, 

Til . ^ ^ 

because I could not obey his wicked command, to stop 
praying and keep away from the meetings. For, after 
the time of my joining the Church, he allowed me to 
go to all the meetings, and granted me many other little 
favors, which I had never before received from him. 
About this time I began to feel very lonely. I wanted 


a friend to whom I could tell my story of sorrows, of 
unsatisfied longing, of new and fondly cherished plans. 
I wanted a companion whom I could love with all my 
warm affections, who should love me in return with a 
true and fervent heart, of whom I might think when 
toiling for a selfish, unfeeling master, who shall dwell 
fondly on my memory when we were separated during 
the severe labors of the day, and with whom I might 
enjoy the blessed happiness of social endearments after 
the work of each day was over. My heart yearned to 
have a home, if it was only the wretched home of the 
unprotected slave, to have a wife to love me and to love. 
It seems to me that no one can have such fondness of 
love and such intensity of desire for home and home 
affections, as the poor slave. Despised and trampled 
upon by a cruel race of unfeeling men, the bondman 
must die in the prime of his wretched life, if he finds no 
refuge in a dear home, where love and sympathy shall 
meet him from hearts made sacred to him by his own 
irrepressible affection and tenderness for them. And so I 
sought to love and win a true heart in return. I did this 
too, with the full knowledge of the desperate agony 
that the slave husband and father is exposed to. Had 
I not seen this in the anguish of my own parents ? Yea, I 
saw it in every public auction, where men and women 
and children were brought upon the block, examined, 
and bought. I saw it on such occasions, in the hopeless 
agony depicted on the countenance of husband and wife 
there separated to meet no more in this cruel world ; 
and in the screams of wild despair and useless entreaty 
which the mother, then deprived of her darling child, 
sent forth. I heard the doom which stares every slave 
parent in the face each waking and sleeping hour of an 
unhappy life. And yet I sought to become^ a husband 
and a father, because I felt that I could live no longer 
unloved and unloving. I was married to Lucilla Smith, 
the slave to Mrs Moore. We called it and we considered 
it a true marriage, although we knew well that mar- 
riage was not permitted to the slaves as a sacred right 
of the loving heart. Lucilla was seventeen years old 


when we were married. I loved her with all my heart, 
and she gave me a return for my affection with which I 
was contented. Oh, God of love, thou knowest what 
happy hours we have passed in each other's society in 
our poor cabin. When we knelt in prayer, we never 
forgot to ask God to save us from the misery of cruel 
separation, while life and love were our portion. Oh, 
how we have talked of this dreadful fate, and wept in 
mingling sorrow, as we thought of our desolation, if we 
should be parted and doomed to live on weary years, 
away from each other's dear presence. We had three 
dear little babes. Our fondness for our precious chil- 
dren increased the current feelin<j of love for each other, 
which filled our hearts. They were bright, precious 
things, those little babes ; at least so they seemed to us. 
Lucilla and I were never tired of planning to improve 
their condition, as far as might be done for slaves. We 
prayed with new fervency to our Father in Heaven to 
protect our precious babes. Lucilla was very proud of 
me, because I could read and write, and she often spoke 
of my teaching our dear little ones, and then she would 
say, with tears, " Who knows, Thomas, but they may 
yet he free and happy ?" Lucilla was a valuable slave 
to her mistress. She was a seamstress, and very expert 
at her needle. I had a constant dread that Mrs. Moore, 
her mistress, would be in want of money, and sell my 
dear wife. We constantly dreaded a final separation. 
Our affection for each other was very strong, and this 
made us always apprehensive of a cruel parting. These 
fears were well founded, as our sorrowing hearts too socn 
learned. A few years of very pure and constant hap- 
piness for slaves, passed away, and we were parted to 
meet but once again till we meet in eternity. Mrs. 
Moore left Wilmington, and moved to Newbern. She 
carried with her my beloved Lucilla and my three 
children, Annie, four years old ; Lizzie, two and a half 
years ; and our sweet little babe, Charlie. She remained 
there eighteen months. And oh, how lonely and dreary 
and desponding were those months of lonely life to my 
crushed heart ! My dear wife and my precious chil- 


dren were seventy-four miles distant from me, carried 
away from me in utter scorn of my beseeching words. 
I was tempted to put an end to my wretched life. I 
thought of my dear family by day and by night. A 
deep despair was in my heart, such as no one is called 
to bear in such cruel, crushing power as the poor slave, 
severed forever from the objects of his love by the cu- 
pidity of his brother. But that dark time of despair 
passed away, and I saw once more my wife and chil- 
dren. Mrs. Moore left Newbern for Tuscaloosa, Ala., 
and passing through Wilmington on her journey, she 
spent one night in her old home. That night I passed 
with my wife and children. Lucilla had pined away 
under the agony of our separation, even more than I had 
done. That night she wept on my bosom, and we min- 
gled bitter tears together. Our dear children were 
baptized in the tears of agony that were wrung from 
our breaking hearts. The just God will remember that 
night in the last award that we and our oppressors are 
to receive. 

The next morning Mrs. Moore embarked on board 
the packet. I followed my wife and children to the 
boat, and parted from them without a word of farewell. 
Our sobs and tears were our only adieu. Our hearts 
were too full of anguish for any other expression of our 
hopeless woe. I have never seen that dear family since, 
nor have I heard from them since I parted from them 
there. God only knows the bitterness of my agony, 
experienced in the separation of my wife and children 
from me. The memory of that great woe will find a 
fresh impression on my heart while that heart shall 
beat. How will the gifted and the great meet the charge 
against them at the great day, as the judge shall say to 
them, in stern displeasure, " I was sick, destitute, im- 
prisoned, helpless, and ye ministered not unto me ; for 
when ye slighted and despised these wretched, pleading 
slaves, ye did these acts of scorn against me. Depart 
ye workers of iniquity." 

After my purchase by Owen Holmes, I hired my 
time at $lo0 per year, paid monthly. I rented. a house 


of Dr. E. J. Desert. I worked, loading and unloading 
vessels that came into Wilmington, and could earn from 
one dollar to a dollar and a quarter a day. While my 
wife and family were spared to bless my home by their 
presence and love, I was comparatively happy. But I 
found then that the agony of the terrible thought, " I 
am a slave, my wife is a slave, my precious children are 
slaves," grew bitter and insupportable, just as the hap- 
piness in the society of my beloved home became more 
distinct and abounding. And this one cup of bitterness 
was ever at my lips. Hearts of kind sympathy and 
tender pity, did I not drain that cup of bitter woe to its 
very dregs, when my family were carried off into re- 
turnless exile, and I was left a heart broken, lonely 
man ! Can you be still inactive while thousands are 
drinking that potion of despair every year in this land 
of schools and Bibles ? After I parted from my family, 
I continued to toil on, but not as I had done before. 
My home was darker than the holds of ships in which 
I worked. Its light, the bright, joyous light of love 
and sympathy and mutual endearments, was quenched. 
Ah me, how dark it left my poor heart. * It was colder 
than the winter wind and frost ; the warm sunshine was 
snatched away and my poor heart froze in its bitter 
cold. Its gloom was deeper than the prison or cave 
could make it. Was not there the deserted chairs and 
beds, once occupied by the objects of a husband's and a 
father's love ? Deserted ! How, and Why ? The 
answer, is not the unqualified condemnation of the gov- 
ernment and religion of this land ? I could not go into 
my cold, dark, cheerless house; the sight of its de- 
serted room was despair to my soul. So I worked on, 
taking jobs whenever I could get them, and working 
often till nearly morning, and never going to my home 
for rest till I could toil no more. And so I passed four 
years, and I began to feel that I could not live in utter 
loneliness any longer. My heart was still and always 
yearning for affection and sympathy and loving com- 
munion. My wife was torn from me. I had ceased 


to hope for another meeting with her in this world of 
oppression and suffering ; so I sat down and wrote to 
Lucilla, that I could live alone no longer, and saying 
to her the sad farewell, which we could not say when 
we were sundered. I asked Mary R. Moore to come 
and cheer me in my desolate home. She became my 
wife, and, thank God, she has been rescued from slavery 
by the blessing of God and my efforts to save her. She 
is now my wife, and she is with me to day, and till 
death parts us, secure from the iron hand of slavery. 
Three of our dear children are with us, too, in the old 
Commonwealth. I cannot say they are in a, free land, 
for, even here, in the city of Boston, where I am told, is 
kept the old cradle of liberty, my precious children are 
excluded from the public schools, because their skin is 
black. Still, Boston is better than Wilmington, inas- 
much as the rulers of this place permit me to send my 
children to any school at all. After my second mar- 
riage, I hired my wife of her master, and paid for her 
time, $48 a year, for three years. We had one child 
while Mary was a slave. That child is still in chains. 
The fourth year, by the aid of a white friend, I pur- 
chased my wife for $350. We had before determined 
to try to accomplish this enterprise in order that our 
dear babes might be free. Besides I felt that I could 
not bear another cruel separation from my wife and 
children. Yet, the dread of it was strong and unceas- 
ing upon my mind. So we made a box, and, through 
a hole in the top, we put in every piece of money, from 
five cents up to a dollar, that we could save from our 
hard earnings. This object nerved us for unceasing 
toil, for twenty months or about that time. What 
hopes and fears beset us as those months wore away ! 
I have been compelled to hide that box in a hole dug 
for it, when I knew the patrollers were coming to search 
my cabin. For well did I know, if they found my box, 
I should be penniless again. How often have I started 
and turned in sudden and terrible alarm, as I have 
dropped a piece of money into my box, and heard its 
loud ring upon the coin below, lest some prowling ene- 


my should hear It, and steal from me my hoarded trea- 
sure. Aud how often have I started up in my sleep as 
the storm has beat aloud upon my humble home, with 
the cry of unspeakable agony in my heart, — " Then, 

God, they have taken my box, and my wife and babes 
are still slaves." When my box was broken open, I 
still lacked a little of the $350 necessary to buy my 
wife. The kind friend who had promised to aid me in 
the contemplated purchase, made up the deficiency, and 

1 became the owner of my wife. We had three chil- 
dren at this time, and, O, how my crushed heart was 
uplifted in its pride and joy, as I took them in my arms 
and thought that they were not slaves." These three 
children are with me and with their mother now, where 
the slave's chains and whips are heard no more. Oh, 
how sweet is freedom to man ! But doubly dear is the 
consciousness to the father's heart, made bitter in its in- 
curable woe by the degradation of slavery, that his 
dear child is never to be a slave ! Would to God the 
fathers of this nation Ave re all possessed of a true con- 
sciousness of these things ; for then, surely, they would 
will and secure the immediate ending of human bon- 

After I had purchased my wife, we still Avorked hard 
and saved our earnings Avith great care, in order to get 
some property in hand for future use. As I sa\*ed my 
earnings, I got a white man whom I thought my friend 
(his name I choose to keep back for the present,) to lay 
it out for me. In this Avay I became the OAvner of the 
cabin in AA r hich I lived, and two other small houses, all 
of Ayhich Avere held in the name of this supposed friend. 
He held them in his own name for me. A slave can- 
not hold property. I will here remark that I Avas de 
ceived by this man ; and Avhen I ran away from my 
chains, after sending on my family, I Avas compelled to 
sacrifice the Avhole of this property. I left it, because 
I could not get my OAvn from his hands, and came off 
entirely destitute. Thank God, I got aAvay, and noAV 
I have no tears to shed over the loss of my houses. 

During the Avinter of 1848-9, a kind lady came and 


told me that some white men were plotting to enslave 
my wife and children again. She advised me to get 
them off to the free States as quickly and secretly as 
possible. A lawyer of Wilmington told me they were 
not safe, unless emancipated by a special act of the Le- 
gislature. He was a member of the House, and tried 
to get through the House a bill for their emancipation. 
But there was so much ill feeling upon this question 
that he could not do it. The Legislature threw it aside 
at once. He then advised me to get them off to the 
free States as my only course to save them. This I de- 
termined to do if possible. I kept a good lookout for a 
vessel. I found one, and made a bargain with the cap- 
tain to take on board for New York a free colored wo- 
man and her three children. A kind friend gave me a 
certificate of their freedom to the captain, and I brought 
my wife and children on board at night, paid the cap- 
tain $25 for their fare, and staid on the wharf in tortur- 
ing fear till about sunrise, when I saw the vessel under 
way. It was soon out of sight. When I went home, 
threw myself on my knees, and poured out my soul 
to God, to carry that ship and its precious cargo safely 
and swiftly on to a free haven, and to guard and guide 
me soon to a free home with my beloved family. And 
so I kept on, praying, working, hoping, pining, for 
nearly three weeks, when I received the happy news 
that my dear ones were safe with a true-hearted friend 
in Brooklyn. I had notified him beforehand that they 
were coining ; and now the good and glorious news 
came that they were safe with Robert H. Cousins, 
where the slaveholders could trouble them no more. I 
had arrangedwith Mary when she left, to come on my- 
self as soon as I could get the money for my houses and 
land. She was to write to me as though she had gone 
to New York on a visit, intending to come back, and 
she was to speak of New York as if she did not like it at 
all. I knew my master would be very angry when he 
heard she had gone unbeknown to him, and I thought 
he would demand to see the letters my wife should get 
friends in New York to write to me for her : and so I 


made ready to meet and quiet his suspicions, while I 
was plotting my own escape. For more than three 
months I tried to get the money, or part of it for my 
houses ; but was put off and deceived, till I found I 
must come off without a cent of the property I had tried 
so hard to accumulate. I was reepiired to call and see 
my master every day, because he suspected me of de- 
sign to run away. He was taken suddenly sick, and 
then I started for my wife and children. Before I give 
a narrative of my escape, I will give copies of the let- 
ters which passed between me and my wife, while I re- 
mained in the land of bondage after her escape. These 
letters with their post marks, are all in my possession 
and can be examined by any one who may doubt their 
authenticity, or the fidelity with which they are here 
given. The kind friend who has written this narrative 
for me, has corrected some mistakes in the construc- 
tion and spelling of these letters, and some he has left 
uncorrected. He has also omitted some repetitions ; 
otherwise they are given as exact copies. I wrote my 
own letters ; my wife wrote by the help of a friend. I 
give all my letters, and the two from my wife which 
I was able to keep. The following was written soon 
after my wife started for New York. 

Wilmington, N. C, July 11, 1849. 
My Dear Wife — I write these few lines to inform 
you that I am well, and hope they may find you and 
the children well, and all the friends. My dear wife, 
I long to see you and the children one time more in 
this world. I hope to see you all soon. Don't get 
out of heart, for I will come as soon as I can. I hope 
it will not be long, for God will be my helper, and I 
feel he will help me. * My dear wife you must pray 
for me that God may help me. Tell John he must be 
a good boy till I see him. I must not forget sister 
Chavis. She must pray for me, that God may help 
me come out. Tell her I say that 9he must be faithful 
to God ; and I hope dear wife you will be faithful to 
God. Tell sister Chavis that Henry will be out soon, 


and he wants her to keep a good heart and he will send 
money out to her. Tell her he says she must write to 
him as soon as she can, for he will not stay long behind 
her. As soon as he gets his money he will come. I 
hope to see you all very soon. Tell my Brethering to 
pray for me, that God may help me to get there safe 
and make my way clear before me. Help me by your 
prayers, that God may be with me. Tell brother Ro- 
bert H. Cousins that he must pray for me ; for I long 
to meet him one time more in this world. Sister Tucker 
and husband give their love to you and Sister Chavis, 
and say that you must pray for them. Dear wife, you 
may look for me soon. But what way I will come, I 
can't tell you now. You may look for me in three 
weeks from now. You must try and do the best you 
can till I come, You know how it is with me, and how 
I have to come. Tell the Church to pray for me, for 
I hope to reach that land if I live, and I want the 
prayers of all God's children. I can't say any more at 
this time ; but, I remain your dear husband, till death, 


P. S. — Dear wife, I want you to make out that you 
don't like New York. When you write to me you 
must say so. Do mind how you write. 

The next letter was written before I had received 
any certain intelligence of my wife's arrival at New 

Wilmington, N. C, July 17, 1849. 

My Dear Wife — I write to tell you I am well, and 
I hope these few lines will find you and the children 
well. I long to see you all one time more. Do pray 
for me, that God may help me to.get to you all. Do ask 
sister to pray the Lord to help me. I will trust in God, 
for I know that He is my friend, and He will help me. 
My dear wife, tell my children I say they must be 
good till I see them once more. Do give my love to 
Brother R. H. Cousins, and tell him I hope to meet 
him in two or three weeks from now. Then I can tell 
him all I want to say to him. Tell Sister Chavis I say, 


do not come back to this place till I come. Her hus- 
band says he wants her to stay, and he will come .on 
soon. My dear wife, I want you to do the best you 
can till I come. I will come as soon as I can. You 
and sister Chavis must live together, for you went to- 
gether, and you must try to stay together. Do give 
my love to sister Johnson and husband, and all of my 
friends. Ask them all to pray for me, that God may 
be with me in all that I do to meet you all one time 
more. My dear wife you know how I told you, you 
must mind how you write your letters. You must 
not forget to write as if you did not like New York, 
and that you will come home soon. You know what I 
told you to do, and now you must not forget it when 
you write. I will send you some money in my next 
letter. I have not sold my houses yet, and if I can't 
sell, I will leave them all, and come to you and the 
children. I will trust in that God who can help the 
poor. My dear, don't forget what I told you to do 
when you write. You know how I have to do. Be 
careful how you write. I hope to be with you soon, by 
the help of God. But, above all things, ask all to pray 
for me, that God may open the way for me to come 
safe. I hope to be with you soon by the help of the 
Lord. Tell them if 1 never come, to go on, and may 
God help them to go forth to glorious war. Tell them 
to se3 on the mountain top the standard of God. Tell 
them to follow their Captain, and be led to certain vic- 
tory. Tell them I can but sing with my latest breath, 
happy, if I may to the last speak His name, preach 
Him to all, and cry, in death, " Behold the Lamb." 
Go on, my dear wife, and trust in God foi.' all things. 
I remain your husband, THOMAS JONES. 

Before I wrote the next, I received the happy news 
that my wife was safe with Brother Cousins. 

Wilmington, N. C, July 25, 1849. 
My Dear Wife — Do tell my children they must be 
good children till I come to them ; and you my dear 
wife, must do the best you can ; for I don't know how 


I will come, but I will do the best I can for you. I hope 
God will help me, for, if He don't, I' don't know what 
I will do. My dear wife, I have not sold my houses 
yet, but I will do the best I can. If I had money I 
would leave all I have and come, for I know the Lord 
will help me. It is for want of money that I can't come. 
But I hape, my dear wife, the Lord will help me out. 
Tell Brother Cousins I hope he and all the people of 
God will pray for me ; and you, my dear wife, must 
not forget to pray for me. Ask brother Cousins, if he 
pleases, to put my children to some school. Dear wife, 
you know the white people will read your letters to 
me ; do mind how you write. No one but God knows 
my heart. Do pray for me. I remain your husband 
till death. THOMAS JONES. 

P. S. — My dear wife, I received your letter the 24th 
of July, and was truly glad to hear you arrived safe in 
New York. Please tell Brother Cousins I will write 
to him in a few days, and I will send you some money. 
My dear wife do mind how you write. You must not 
forget I am in a slave place, and I can't buy myself for 
the money. You know how it is, and you must tell 
brother Cousins. I have not sold yet, but if I can't 
sell, I will come some how, by the help of the Lord. 
John Holmes is still in my way. I want you to write 
a letter and say in it, that you will be home in two 
months, so I can let them read it, for they think I will 
run away and come to you. So do mind how you 
write for the Lord's sake. THOMAS JONES. 

The next letter was written to Sister Chavis, who 
went on to New York, but got disheartened and came 
back to Wilmington. 

Wilmington, N. C, Aug. 4, 1849. 

My Dear Sister — I hope to see you in a few days, 
and all my friends. I hope, dear sister, you will not 
forget to pray for me, for by the help of God, I will 
see you in a few days. Your husband is coming on 
soon, but I will be on before him. I would have been 
on before now, but I could not get my money. I have 
had a hard time to get money to leave with. I am 


sorry to hear that you think we can't get a living 
where you are. My dear sister, a smart man can get 
a living anywhere in the world if he try. Don't think 
we can't live out there, for I know God will help us. 
You know God has promised a living to all His chil- 
dren. Don't forget that God is ever present, for we 
must trust Him till death. Don't get out of heart, for 
I know we can live out there, if any one can. You 
may look for me before your husband. Don't leave 
New York before I come, for you know what I told you 
before you left Wilmington. If you come back to this 
place before I get off, it will make it bad for me. You 
know what the white people here are. Please don't 
come yet. I am your brother in the Lord, till death, 

P.S. — I sent the letter you wrote to Mr. John Banks. 
I thought you will wait for a letter from your husband 
and I hope you will be better satisfied in your mind 
that we can get a living out there. Your husband has 
wrote to you last week ; I hope you have got the letter. 
Oh, that you may trust in God every day, for I know 
God is your friend, and you must pray night and day, 
that he may help you. I long to see you one time 
more in this world. We went into the new Church on 
the 9th day of this month. God was with us on that 
day, and we had a good time. Though my time with 
them is short, I hope God will be with them, and may 
we all meet in the kingdom at last. So pray for me, 
my dear sister. Aunt Narvey has been dead nearly 
four weeks. She died happy in the Lord, and is gone 
home to rest. I hope we may meet in the kingdom at 
last. Good night, my dear sister. THOMAS JONES. 

The next letter is to my wife and Brother Cousins, 
and explains itself. 

Wilmington, August 7, 1849. 

My Dear Wife — I long to see you once more in 
this world, and hope it wdl not be very long before I am 
with you. I am trying, my dear wife, to do all I can to 
get to you. But I hope you will not forget to mind 


how you write to me. If you should not mind how you 
write, you will do me great harm. You know I told 
you to write that you would be home in two months, or 
three months at the longest. But in two months I told 
them you would be home. Now, my dear, you must 
mind, and don't forget, for you know how it is here ; a 
man can't say that his soul is his own, that is, a colored 
man. So do mind how you write to me. Tell Sister 
Chavis I say she must write to me ; and I hope soon I 
will write my last letter. I will let you know in my 
next letter how all things are with me. Dear wife, don't 
get out of heart, for God is my friend. The will of 
God is my sure defence, nor earth nor hell can pluck 
me thence, for God hath spoken the word. My dear 
wife, in reply to your kind letter, received the second 
day of this month, I have wrote these few lines. I hope 
you will pray for me, your dear husband, 


P. S. — To Brother Cousins. — My dear Brother, I 
hope you will not think hard of me for not writing to 
you, for you know how it is with me out here. God 
knows that I would write to you at any time, if it was 
not for some things. You know the white people don't 
like for us to write to New York. Now, let me ask 
your prayers, and the prayers of the Church, and God's 
children, that I may see you all soon. I know that God 
is my friend, for He doth my burden bear. Though I 
am but dust and ashes, I bless God, and often feel the 
power of God. Oh, my brother, pray for me, who loves 
\ou all, for I have found of late much comfort in the 
word of God's love. When I come where you are, in 
the work of the Lord, and I hope the time will soon 
come when the Gospel will be preached to the whole 
world of mankind. Then go on, dear Brother, and do 
all you can for the Lord. I hope the Lord will help 
me to get where you are at work soon. Nothing more, 
but I remain your brother in the Lord, 


The next is from my wife. 


Brooklyn, Aug. 10, 1849. 
Mr Dear Husband — I got your kind letter of the 
23d July, and rejoiced to hear that you was well. I 
have been very sick myself, and so has Alexander ; but 
thanks to the Lord, these lines leave me and the chil- 
dren right well. I hope in God they may find you and 
my son and my mother, and all enquiring friends, en- 
joying the same blessings. My dear, you requested me 
and Mrs. Chavis to stay together, but she has taken 
other people's advice beside mine and Mr. Cousin's, and 
has gone away. She started for home before we knew 
a word of it. She left me on the eighth of this month. 
Do give my love to Betsey Webb and to her husband. 
Tell her I am sorry she has not come on before now. I 
am waiting to see her before I start for home. My 
dear husband, you know you ought to send me some 
money to pay my board. You know I don't love to 
leave in this way with my children. It is true that 
Brother Cousins has not said anything to me about it. 
You keep writing that you are going to send it in your 
next letter ; you know I like to act independent, and I 
wish you to help me do so now, if you please. Do give 
my compliments to aunt Moore, and tell her the chil- 
dren all send their love to her. They send their love 
to you and say they want to kiss you mighty bad. The 
children send their love to brother Edward. I long to 
see you, husband. No more at present, but remain 
your loving wife till death. KYNAR JONES. 

The next letter is in answer to the ^letter from my 
wife, given above. 

Wilmington, N. C, Aug. 12, 1849. 
My Dear Wife — I received your paper of the 10th 
to-day. I am glad to hear that you are well, and the 
children and friends. I have written to Brother Cous- 
ins, and told him to tell you that I had not sold out yet. 
But I hope to sell in a few days, and then I will send 
you some money. My dear wife, you know that I will 
do all I can for you and for my children, and that with 
all my heart. Do try and wait on me a few days, and 


I hope you will see me and the money too. I am try" 
ing to do all I can to sell out, but you know how it i s 
here, and so does Brother Cousins. I will do all I know, 
for I think of you, my dear wife, and the children, day 
and night. If I can get my money, I will see you soon, 
by the help of God and my good friend, and that is a 
woman ; she is waiting for me to come every day. My 
dear wife, all I want is money and your prayers, and 
the prayers of my friends. I know that God will help 
me out of my trouble ; I know that God is my friend, 
and I will trust to Him, You wrote to me that Mrs. 
Chavis left New York. She has not got home yet. I 
hope, dear wife, that you have done all your part for 
her. Do give my love to Brother Cousins ; ask him to 
pray for me, and all God's people to pray for me, a poor 
slave at this time. My dear wife, since I wrote last, I 
have seen much of the goodness of the Lord. Pray for 
me, that I may see more, and that I may trust in Him. 
My dear wife, I want you should pray for me day and 
night, till you see me. For, by the help of God, I will 
see you all soon. I think now it will be but a few days. 
Do give my love to my children, and tell them that I 
want to kiss them all. Good night, my dear, I must go 
to bed, it is one o'clock at night, and I have a pain in 
my head at this time. Do tell Brother Cousins that I 
say he must look out for me, on John street, in a few 
days. Nothing more, but I remain your husband till 

Letter from my wife. 

Brooklyn, August 23, 1849. 

My Dear Husband — It is with the affectionate 
feeling of a wife I received your letter of the 19th inst. 
It found me and the children well, and we were glad to 
hear that you was well. But we feel very sorry you 
have not sold out yet ; I was in hopes you would have 
sold by the time you promised, before I got home. 
Your letter found Mr. Cousins and his wife very sick. 
Mr. C. has not been out of the house going on two 
weeks. He was taken by this sickness, so common, 


which carries so many people off, but, by the help of 
God and good attendance, he is much on the mend, and 
his wife also. You ask how much I pay for board. It 
is three dollars a week for myself and children. In all 
the letters you have written to me, you don't say a word 
of mother or Edward. It makes me feel bad not to 
hear from them. Husband, I have not paid Mr. Cous \ 
ins any board, and am waiting for you to send me some 
money. I will pray for you hourly, publicly and pri- 
vately, and beseech the Almighty God, till I see you 
again. I shall trust in God ; He will do all thinsrs for 
the best. I am yours till death do us part. 


Last letter to my wife from the land of bondage. 

Wilmington, N. C, Aug. 30, 1849. 
My Dear Wife — I have been quite sick for three 
weeks, but, thank God, I am better at this time, and 
hope these few lines will find you and the children all 
well. I hope, my dear wife, that you have not got out 
of heart looking for me ; you know how it is here ; I 
did think I would have got my money here before this 
time. But I can't get it, and I will leave all and come 
to you as soon as I can. So don't get out of heart, my 
dear wife ; I have a hard trial here ; do pray for me, 
that the Lord may help me to see you all soon. I think 
of you day and night, and my dear children ; kiss them 
for me ; I hope to kiss them soon. Edward is sold to 
Owen Holmes ; but I think Mr. Josh. Wright will get 
him from H. I have done all I could for Edward. 
Don't think of coming back here, for I will come to you 
or die. But I want you should write one more letter 
to me, and say you will be home in a month. Mr. 
Dawson will be in New York next week, and you will 
see him ; mind how you talk before him, for you know 
how it is, though he is a friend to me. Now, you must 
mind what I tell you, my dear wife, for if you don't, 
you will make it hard for me. Now, my dear wife, you 
must not come back here for your brother and sister ; 
they talk too much ; but mind what I say to you, for 


you know I will do all I can for you ; you must not 
think that you will not get any money, for you shall 
have it soon. Don't get out of heart, my dear wife ; I 
hope I shall see you soon. Nothing more, but I remain 
your husband till death. 

Soon after despatching this letter, I bargained, while 
my master lay sick, with the steward of the brig Bell, 
to stow me away in the hold of the ship, and take me 
on to New York. I paid him eight dollars, which was 
all the money I then had or could get. I went into 
the hold, with an allowance of biscuit and water, and 
the ship started. She was loaded with turpentine, and 
I found on the second day that I could njt live out the 
passage there. So I told the steward, and he took me 
out in a <tate of great weakness, and stowed me away 
in one of the state-rooms. Here I was discovered by 
the captain. He charged me with being a runaway 
slave, and saii he should send me back by the first op- 
po.tu.iity that offered. That day a severe storm came 
on, and for several days we were driven . by the gale. 
I turned to and cooked for the crew. The storm was 
followed by a calm of several days ; and* then the wind 
sprung up again, and the captain made for port at once. 
1 had reason to suspect, from the manner in which I 
was guarded, after the ship came to anchor off New 
York, that the captain was plotting to send me back. 
I resolved to peril life in a last effort to get on shore. 
So, while the captain was in the city, and the mate 
was busy in the cabin mending his clothes, I made a 
raft of such loose board 3 as I could get, and hastily 
bound them together, and committing myself to God, I 
launched forth upon the waves. The shore was about 
a mile distant ; 1 had the tide in my favor, and with its 
help I had paddled one-fourth the distance, when the 
mate of the Bell discovered my escape, and made after 
me in the boat. I waved my old hat for help, and a 
boat, which seemed to be coming round not far from 
me, came to my rescue. I was taken on board. They 
asked me if I was a slave, and told me not to fear to 


tell the truth, for I was with friends, and they would 
protect me. I told them my circumstances just as they 
were. They were as good as their word. When the 
mate came up they ordered him to keep off, and told 
him they would prosecute him if he touched me. They 
took me to Brother Cousins, and gave me a little money 
and SDtne clothes in addition to all their other kindness. 

*The meeting with my wife and children I cannot 
describe. It was a moment of joy too deep and holy 
for any attempt to paint it. Husbands who love as I 
have loved, and fathers with hearts of fond, devoted 
affection, may imagine the scene and my feelings, as 
my dear wife lay sobbing in her joy in my arms, and 
my three dear little babes were clinging to my knees, 
crying, " Pa has come : Pa has come." It was the 
happy hour of my life. I tl>en felt repaid for all my 
troubles and toils to secure the freedom of my family 
and my own. O God, would that my other dear ones 
were here, too. God in mercy speed the day when 
right shall over might prevail, and all the down-trodden 
sons and daughters of toil and want shall be free and 
pious and happy. 

I have but little more now to say. The Sabbath 
after my arrival in Brooklyn, I preached in the morning 
in the Bethel ; I then came on to Hartford. A gentle- 
man kindly paid my passage to that place, and sent me 
an introduction to a true-hearted friend. I staid in 
Hartford twenty-four hours ; but finding I was pursued, 
and being informed that I should be safer in Massachu- 
setts than in Connecticut, I came on to Springfield, and 
from thence to Boston, where I arrived, penniless and 
friendless, the 7th of October. A generous friend took 
me, though a stranger, in, and fed and cheered me. 
He loaned me five dollars to get my dear family to 
Boston. He helped me to get a chance to lecture in 
May Street Church, where I received a contribution of 
$2.58 ; also in the Sion Church, where I obtained $2.33 ; 
and in the Bethel Church, where they gave me $3.53. 
And so I was enabled to get my family to Boston. En- 
tirely destitute, without employment, I now met with a 


kind friend, who took me with him to Danvers. I lec- 
tured and preached in the . Free Evangelical Church, 
and received most generous and opportune aid. They 
gave me ten dollars, and by their kindness they lifted 
up a sinking brother. The next Sabbath evening I 
lectured in the Wesleyan Church in Boston, and re- 
ceived a contribution of $3.33. During the week fol- 
lowing, I was assisted by the pastor of this Church, and 
by several individual members. The next Sabbath I 
spent with Brother Flanders, of Exeter; N. H. JEjffl 
gave me a brother's warm welcome. I preached for hi 
in the Wesleyan Church, of which he is pastor, in t 1 j 
morning, and lectured in the evening to a full and at- 
tentive house. Here I received a generous contribution 
of nearly ten dollars. To-morrow is Thanksgiving 
Day. Go 1 will know, and He alone can know, the 
deep and fervent gratitude and joy with which I shall 
keep it, as I gather my friends, my dear family, around 
me to celebrate the unspeakable goodness of God to 
me, and to speak with swelling hearts of the kindness 
of the dear friends who have poured upon our sidness 
and fears the sunlight of sympathy, love and generous 
aid. May the blessing of Heaven rest down now and 
forever upon them, is the prayer of their grateful 
brother, and of his dear family, by their kindness saved 
from pinching want. 

But alas ! it was not long before I found that I was 
not yet free. I had not yet slipped from the chain. 
The Fugitive Slave Law drove me from my kind friends 
in New England, and I found that my wanderings were 
not yet ended. I took refuge in the British Provinces, 
where God had provided a house of refuge for the 
houseless, homeless slave. Tribulation and distress, 
with many kind dealings of Providence and wonderful 
deliverances, have since been my lot. I hope to be 
able to tell in another narrative, of my adventures iter 
the close of this story, of the kindness of friends md 
the goodness of God. 


JUN 2 1933